At the beginning of this year I decided that this would be the year that I actually wrote a book. And by book I mean an actual 70,000 words plus novel. I’ve written short stories, poetry and novellas on and off for many years, coming and going with the ebb and flow of life. But I didn’t want to be one of those people who look back on life and say ‘I wish’.
I started with a couple of pages I’d written for a competition last summer (never submitted) because I felt like it had a little bit of potential. I didn’t have any idea where it was going to end up because I didn’t outline or plan (I know some of you are holding your hands up in horror!). But here’s the thing, it grew. I tried to keep to a word count of 1,000 words a day as that was do-able with my schedule. I didn’t beat myself up if I missed a day, life happens, but I was back at it the day after.
The story led me. My characters became multi dimensional. And then one day I suddenly knew where it was going. Another story I had begun and abandoned years ago gave me the seeds of another idea to fly with. The characters almost formed themselves. I joined http://writingchallenge.org/ and found a like minded group of people who supported me on the days where things didn’t work and cheered for me when they did. After a couple of months I could see that there was a real possibility that this book baby of mine would be completed.
When I had started anything before the one thing that kept stalling me was my perfectionism. I would go back and nit pick at things, altering words, getting it just right. Which, of course, jammed up any creative flow I had going.
But this story became an experiment in itself. I didn’t read back at what I’d written at the start of a new day, I just ploughed on, the most important thing was finishing.
And after three months that what I did – I was able to type THE END on a first draft of around 80,000 words.
This blog will be about my journey, and yes, I should have started it back in January when I began, but I was too hyper focused on the actual writing. I can be a bit obsessive. I hope to share the highs and the lows, what I learn, and inevitably, the mistakes I make.
There’s a lot out there, a dizzying amount of ideas and links for someone new, and it can all be a bit daunting. But one thing I have learned is that more established writers are generous with their support and their knowledge.
So, come on in, the water’s lovely and the words await you.
4 thoughts on “First steps”
Congratulations on finishing your first draft. One thing that I think stops a lot of writers from finishing a book is a sense of discouragement when they don’t meet their goals. “I was supposed to write 1,000 words today,” they think, “I’m a failure,” and then they unfortunately quit. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: it’s important to set realistic goals and not beat yourself up if you don’t always meet them; just stay focused and determined.
Thank you! You are my first comment 🙂
Exactly. Writers are their own worst enemies! It’s important to set a realistic goal and it doesn’t matter if that’s 100 words or a 1,000. It’s all progress. The important thing is getting back on the horse after you’ve missed a day or two. We all have busy lives with other commitments and sometimes they stretch us too far. Writing a book is a journey, it can’t be hurried and it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there.
Congrats! I can’t wait until I can say the same about the story I’m working on! Only 90,000 words or so to go… =P
Thank you, Heidi! Honestly, it’s do-able. Just pick a daily amount that’s right for you and jump in. Don’t get overwhelmed by how much you have left to write, concentrate on what you have written. That word count will creep up daily!